Above: Help restore walking rights along this attractive lane leading up to the old disused railway track.
Page update: Click here to support the campaign to create a PRoW.
Things have progressed since my post about the farmers at Plex threatening me with legal and police action if I didn’t remove walk 12 from the website. (Click here to read.)
I’ve received a couple of phone calls. One from a very pleasant police officer who seemed to appreciate my point of view. And another, from someone who prefers to remain anonymous, about his experience of being aggressively confronted by the farmer, a lady, and a couple of their burly farming friends.
I can’t see the situation being easily and amicably resolved, which is a great pity. But there might be a way of restoring our right to use this route if we can show that people have been walking it for more than 20 years.
This would mean we could apply for a ‘Claimed Public Right of Way’. I’m happy to make the application. But I’d need evidence from others to back the claim. This would include…
- Letters/statement from people saying they used it 20+ years
- Old aerial photos
- Records offices etc
- Parish meeting notes
I’ve certainly been walking this route for well over 20 years. And I’m sure I’m not alone. So if anyone can help with any of the evidence required – even if it’s just a letter confirming you’ve walked this way for over 20 years – then please do get in touch via the contact page. Or leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
Applying for the PRoW is going to be a slow process. And even if we can prove it’s been walked for well over 20 years, there’s no guarantee of success.
So since the farmer seems determined to confront walkers, I thought it might be a good idea to discover what our rights are. And what the farmer can and cannot do.
He seems to be insisting that he can use ‘reasonable force’ to prevent anyone walking along that short stretch of lane. Richard on the Goyt Valley Facebook page sent me some information he found in the National Gamekeepers’ magazine…
If a trespasser peaceably enters or is on land, the landholder may request him to leave and, if he refuses, the landholder or his gamekeeper or other representative may remove him from the land using no more force than is reasonably necessary.
“Reasonably necessary” is obviously open to interpretation. So I asked the police for their advice. They told me that trespass is a civil rather than a police matter and that physical force could only be used “…if it’s absolutely necessary to protect property”. And added that any unwanted physical contact by the farmer could be seen as assault.
Walkers using a tarmacked lane – the bottom half of which is already a PRoW – are clearly not threatening anyone’s property.
I’m no legal expert, but I can’t see how he can justify using any amount of force to prevent us walking along a lane we’ve been using for so long. And since any unwanted physical contact could lead to his arrest for assault, I’d say the law is on our side.
It would be interesting to get some professional legal advice on this. But that could be expensive. So if there’s anyone who may be able to help, or knows someone I could contact, please do get in touch.
I’ll update this page if I manage to discover any more information.
Click here to support the campaign to create a PRoW along this route.